Saturday Sleuthing: The Malaysian Falcon
By: V8 Sleuth
As V8 Supercars ‘goes international’ this weekend in Austin, Texas, our V8 Sleuth has focused on one of the many cars that have ended up offshore and continued racing far from home.
This weekend’s Austin 400 in the United States is the latest overseas trip made by the V8 Supercars Championship and follows previous international destinations including New Zealand, China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
While our championship has international flavour with some of its venues and now with its drivers (via Frenchman Alex Premat, German Maro Engel and a range of New Zealanders and Australians), it’s also amazing just how many of the actual cars have found their way overseas.
At a quick count, there are around 20 V8 Supercars in various corners of the world – some competing in local categories and others sitting idle.
So, with an international event this weekend, we figured Saturday Sleuthing should have an international flavour as well, which tied in nicely with some contact we had from a fan earlier in the season.
Our V8 Sleuth Aaron Noonan received an email earlier in the year from race fan Fabio Tatasciore, who attended the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang.
“While watching the GT support race I noticed what looked like a black BF Falcon Supercar in the field,” he wrote.
“Have you any knowledge on which car this might have been? As I did not buy an official program, the only clue to its previous identity was that it seemed to have a yellow roll cage. It definitely sounded like the real deal.”
The short answer Fabio is, yes it is the real deal!
The car Fabio witnessed race at Sepang this year started life as one of the Betta Electrical/John Briggs Motor Sport Falcon AU chassis that ran in 2002.
From the V8 Sleuth’s records, it was the #65 car driven by Max Wilson in the Brazilian’s debut season in the category as teammate to the #66 car of Tony Longhurst (also a Betta car) and the #600 CAT car, initially raced by Simon Wills.
Wilson drove that car all season, which included involvement in a nasty accident with Craig Lowndes at Phillip Island when Wilson nailed the throttle after being spun by Marcos Ambrose and, unsighted, Lowndes ploughed into him.
The Wilson car was re-numbered #66 for the Queensland 500 only and returned to its regular #65 for Bathurst with Dean Canto co-driving.
With the BA Falcon being introduced for 2003, this car did not race and was bought by Rod Dawson when he purchased another ex-JBMS chassis after Triple Eight had purchased the team and effectively had a clean out.
Dormant for a couple of seasons, it was purchased by Development Series team owner/driver Matthew White in 2005 after his driver Dean Wanless had a start line accident at a DVS round at Queensland Raceway that year in the sister ex-JBMS chassis.
Wanless ran the car for the remainder of what was then known as the HPDC Series as the #28 Smartskip entry and team boss White retained the car in 2006.
He made a one-off appearance in it in 2006 at Wakefield Park’s DVS round after Wanless had run it in the season-opener in Adelaide.
White’s team constructed a BA Falcon that emerged later in the season, though this car would also find itself taking on a new skin for its racing future.
While AU Falcons could not be updated to BA Falcons and meet V8 Supercar rules, there was nothing stopping them being updated to the newer bodywork and sold off to race overseas – and that’s exactly what happened.
The car was sold off to Fugazi Racing in Malaysia, having its first race in the Sepang 12 Hour in August 2007.
But why would a Malaysian race team buy a V8 Supercar to use in their homeland?
Team Manager Hafiz Marzuki said at the time in a team press release: “Why a Ford Falcon? Maybe it’s our personal interest collectively. Everybody loves the V8 machine and everybody was agreeable that we use the car for this years’ MME race.”
MME stood for Malaysia Merdeka Endurance race, which is commonly referred to as the Sepang 12 Hour and the car first ran in the ’07 race.
It was looking good for a strong result until another car spun and punctured the Ford’s diff cooler. It retired with an hour to go after the diff failed from the previous incident.
Since that debut the car has remained in Malaysia and continued to have been raced at Sepang in a range of liveries. It initially ran in silver and black colours before swapping to black and green.
A quick check of the Fugazi Racing Facebook page shows the car competed this year in a black and brown livery at Sepang – which is how Saturday Sleuthing reader Fabio Tatasciore saw it at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The topic of V8 Supercars overseas (and indeed Australian touring cars of all kinds) is one packed full of interesting stories and we have more up our sleeve to bring to you here over upcoming months, so keep checking back for more Saturday Sleuthing stories.
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